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Kovalev vs. Ward winner will face Stevenson says Bellew

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By Scott Gilfoid: WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew expects the winner of this Saturday’s fight between IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) and Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) will face WBC 175lb champion Adonis “Super Man” Stevenson (28-1, 23 KOs) in a unification match.

Bellew thinks that the 39-year-old Stevenson has the best chance of beating Ward, who he believes will defeat Kovalev on Saturday night. Stevenson destroyed Bellew in six one-sided rounds three years ago in 2013 in a 6th round knockout. Bellew believes that Stevenson is the most dangerous puncher in the 175lb division.

What Bellew doesn’t seem to realize is that Ward and Kovalev are both with HBO Boxing while Stevenson is with Showtime. Those are different networks. Even if Stevenson wanted to fight the winner of the Kovalev-Ward fight, it’s not going to happen. I don’t blame Bellew for not knowing that, because he’s from the UK. He probably doesn’t realize that fighters signed with different networks are rarely fighting each other nowadays.

The Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao fight was a rare exception to that rule due to the fight being so huge. With all the sweet cash available for that fight, HBO and Showtime were able to televise the fight on both networks. But for a fight between Stevenson and the winner of the Kovalev-Ward fight, it’s not a big money fight for the fight to be televised on both networks. As such, I don’t see that fight happening.

Maybe when one of those guys’ contracts ends with their current networks, they could move on the other side of the fence to make the fight happen. My guess is by the time that happens, one of both of them will be over-the-hill, and it will no longer be worth watching other than for the interest that boxing fans can get form watching older fighters go at it.

Bellew said this to skysports.com about his belief in Stevenson:

“I still think Adonis Stevenson is the most dangerous fighter in the division and definitely the biggest puncher – he can stop anyone with one punch,” said Bellew. “I do think that after his next fight he will cash out and face the winner of Kovalev against Ward.”

Stevenson is definitely a dangerous puncher. It’s just too bad he’s not signed with the same network as Ward and Kovalev or vice versa so that he can face the winner of that fight.
Stevenson looked good recently in knocking out Thomas Williams in the 4th round last July. Williams tried to slug with Stevenson, and that resulted in him getting knocked out quickly. It wasn’t surprising news that Williams was mowed down so fast by Stevenson, because he had previously been stopped by Gabriel Campillo two years earlier in 2014.

Williams didn’t improve his boxing skills enough to be a threat to Stevenson. Williams Jr. did land some big shots on Stevenson, but he was still dropped in the 1st and 4th rounds. Stevenson also knocked Tommy Karpency and Dmitry Sukhotsky not long ago. The only fighters that have been able to go the distance with Stevenson in the last five years were Sakio Bika and Andrzej Fonfara. Both of those guys took a lot of shots from Stevenson despite going the distance. They probably should have quit on their stools though, because they were little more than punching bags for Stevenson.

“I do think that Ward beats them all, but Stevenson is the most capable of causing an upset,” said Bellew.”He’s the best that I have shared a ring with, he’s a brilliant fighter with unbelievable power and his destruction of Chad Dawson shows exactly what he is capable of.”

Well, let Gilfoid tell you that Bellew shouldn’t waste his time worrying about what the winner of the Kovalev-Ward fight will do or won’t do. I expect Ward to come out on top in that fight on Saturday. Sorry, I don’t see Kovalev as having the T-A-L-E-N-T to pull off an upset over Ward. Once Ward whips Kovalev, then he and his promoters at Roc Nation Sports will decide who they want to fight next, not Bellew. If Bellew wants to do some predicting, then he needs to predict the winner of the James DeGale vs. Badou Jack fight or the winner of the Anthony Joshua vs. Eric Molina fight.

I believe that Bellew is dreaming in thinking that Stevenson will get a crack at the winner of the Ward-Kovalev fight. Once Ward wins on Saturday night, he’s going to fight one of these talents:

Dmitry Bivol

Artur Beterbiv

Joe Smith Jr.

Erik Skoglund

Dominic Boessel

Marcus Browne

Chad Dawson

Jean Pascal

Oleksandr Gvozdyk

Isaac Chilemba

If I were to make a prediction of who the lucky fighter will be, I would guess the guy that brings the most money out of that bunch and that would possibly be Pascal. He’s the best known of those fighters, and Ward hasn’t fought him yet. It’s a fight that would create news in the states, and HBO Boxing would likely give the green light to the fight. The other guys don’t have the name recognition with the casual fans in the U.S for it to be worth much for Ward to bother fighting them.

There’s also the possibility of a rematch for Ward against Kovalev. If their fight is competitive enough, then the boxing public will likely demand a second fight. They could sell it on HHBO PPV once again. I don’t know if their fight on Saturday will be a competitive one. If Ward schools Kovalev or knocks him out, then there won’t be any point in a second fight between the two. Kovalev would need to be rebuilt from start to finish.

I hope Ward gives Kovalev a pep talk after the fight to help bolster his self-confidence, because I wouldn’t want Kovalev to crumble mentally after the defeat. I still remember how Kelly Pavlik’s career was never the same after his loss to Bernard Hopkins in 2008. Pavlkik was riding high at the time. Afterwards, he did pretty much nothing in losing to Sergio Martinez and putting together a handful of wins over lesser fighters. Pavlik last fought in 2012, believe it or not. It would be a pity if Kovalev ended up like that with his boxing career stalling out after a loss to Ward. That’s why I hope Ward gives Kovalev a good pep talk so he doesn’t get down on himself if/when he loses.




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